Yes, Scotland got slated for their decision to play a bizarre 4-6-0 against the Czechs mid-week in the hope of getting a very valuable away draw to the team they will be fighting over second place in their group with. Yes, Scotland were at times outclassed tonight against Spain in their 3-2 loss at Hampden. Yes, you’d have to say the man of the match was Scottish keeper Allan McGregor.
That was one of the few times you’ve seen someone really commit to trying to play with Spain and be willing to open up the field. It made for a great game and if the Dutch had had the nerve to do the same in the World Cup final we’d have seen a much better game.
Scotland, man for man, are nowhere near Spain (even without Xavi) but the one good chance they had in the first half was just as good as anything Spain created. You can’t say the Scots were unlucky not to be down a goal at the half but to give up a goal to a penalty in the last minute of the half was unfortunate.
Even when Spain went up 2-0 on a clinical Iniesta finish Scotland continued to play and did well to stretch the Spanish defense on several occasions. Naismith’s diving header was the goal of the game and Pique’s own goal to level the score at 2-2 was a matter of being forced to deal with a very pacy, difficult cross knowing if he left it there was an unmarked Scottish striker (Miller?) in behind him.
In the end it was Llorente’s guile that won it for Spain. A feigned run to the near post just as the cross was about to be hit led to Stephen McManus biting and overcommitting. The cross sailed over his head as Llorente peeled off to the back post and, unmolested, was able to side foot it past McGregor from in close. Looked like an easy goal. Looked like shocking defending but it was a great, deceptive run from Llorente that made it look so.
Spain deserved the result but it can’t be said that it was never in doubt and there’s not been many Spanish games in the last few years where you could say that